What Is Frangipane and Why Do Bakers Love It So Much?
When you see the word frangipane in the name of a pastry, you might imagine it's very elegant or involves a super-fancy technique. Frangipane sounds exotic, like the perfume for gloves invented by an Italian marquis in the 16th century, or the tropical flower frangipani its name is often attributed to. In fact, it just might be one of the most uncomplicated and useful recipes in a baker's repertoire, and it's easily learned; consider it a crash course in rustic French baking (like the Sour-Cherry Frangipane Tart here).
In essence, frangipane is an almond filling, sometimes called frangipane cream. It isn't the same as marzipan, which is an almond-sugar paste that's so dense it can be formed into decorative shapes and painted in bright colors. Frangipane is a mixture of butter, eggs, ground almonds, sugar, and usually a small amount of flour. It's hardly a delicate procedure; making frangipane is more like making a simple cookie batter. Traditionally, the butter is creamed with sugar until fluffy before mixing in the remaining ingredients, and if you start with soft butter, it's a cinch.
For pairing with stone fruits such as apricots, plums, and cherries, almond or pistachio frangipane is the classic choice. The recipe can be adapted to use with hazelnuts, pecans, or even sesame paste. You can add a liqueur for flavor, too. These options are especially good when autumn fruits such as pears are involved. Frangipane is also used as a filling for delicate pastries and is the main component of galette des rois or king's cake and Pithiviers, another spectacular traditional French dessert; two discs of puff pastry are filled with frangipane and scored decoratively on the top so it looks like a flower.
A good use for frangipane in the home kitchen is Bostock, in which it's spread on top of a syrupy French toast and sprinkled with sliced almonds before baking, forming a delicious, caramelized top. It can sit at room temperature and is a great dish for an indulgent weekend breakfast.
Now that you know all about this adaptable, simple recipe, it's a good one to keep in your back pocket. And, bearing in mind that once a batch of frangipane is made, it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week, you can be sure you're ready for any sweet situation, all year long.